What I used to do…
Last summer, I was on the hunt for a new kind of discipline/reward technique to use in our home. At age four, it seems our son had outgrown the time out system that I had been using since he was about 18 months. He was no longer phased by sitting in time out proving it a waste of my time and his! I knew I wanted to focus more on rewarding positive behavior and experimented with a few different techniques. I created a responsibility chart where Adam received a check mark for each “responsibility” he performed (i.e. washing himself in the tub, staying in his room until 7AM, going to the bathroom without being reminded, brushing his teeth, etc.) At the end of each week, he was rewarded with a coin for every check mark he had received. At four, he was obsessed with getting money for his savings jars so this was a big thing for him. When I remembered to give him his check marks, this system worked well. However, we (ME more than anyone) tired of it and I was looking for something that worked better for our family.
How I discovered the Pom-Pom Jar
This is when a close friend of mine introduced me to the “pom pom jar” and I haven’t looked back since. I still use time-outs for my little guy, but I now also use a Pom Pom Jar for each of my boys. Here are the basics of the idea…
How to Start Using the Pom-Pom Jar
1. Each child has a “jar” of some kind. You’ll see in the pictures below that we use a plastic basket for our pom poms. (Kim uses blue for one son and green for the other – for all things in her house – how smart!)
2. When I witness good behavior (examples….unexpected brotherly kindness, making the bed without being asked, staying dry at night, pooping in the toilet, good behavior at the grocery store, cleaning up toys without being asked, sitting quietly in church, etc. etc.), I toss a pom pom into their jar. When doing this, I make sure to make a big deal out of it and point out that fact that I am adding a pom pom to their jar. We have a rule in our house that you may not ask for a pom pom. The boys also know that they will not get a pom pom for every single act of good behavior.
3. When their Pom Pom Jars are full, I let them pick out a “Kid Coupon.” These are coupons I made up entitling the boys to something special…usually something we would treat them too anyway but this makes it more exciting for them and makes them feel like they earned it. Some examples are…going out for ice cream, picking the restaurant for breakfast after church, going to story time at the library, buying something at the dollar store, picking out a piece of candy in the grocery store line, going to play mini-golf or bumper boats, etc. You get the idea!
4. After the boys get their coupon, we dump out the jar and start all over again.
We’ve been at this for at least 6 months and I’m really liking it. It typically takes them about 3-4 weeks to fill the jar (as I mentioned…I add pom poms when I remember) so it’s usually about a special treat a month which works out well without overloading me with to many things to remember.
I know some families/teachers who designate a certain number of pom poms for a certain behavior (i.e one pom pom for making your bed). This would just give me more to keep track of and doesn’t work for us. However, I thought I’d point it out in case you were interested in that fact. There is also a ton of info on “reward jars” on the internet if you want to look at more ideas.
Overall Response:The boys have responded well to this reward system. Even though I was really looking for something appropriate for the 4 year old, my 2 year old likes it too (although we still mainly use time outs for him)! I try to focus on rewarding positive behavior and the giving of pom poms. However, sometimes I fail miserably and throw out the threat “do you want me to take away a pom pom?!” I do this on rare occasion but it does work like a charm. 🙂